How to be an intentional parent.
Every parent has dreams for their children. As parents, we all start out with the best intentions. Although, at some point, we move from lofty dreams to more realistic appraisals. Raising kids in today’s culture is a difficult challenge and it requires a plan. Without a plan, parents usually default to focusing on today’s problem rather than looking more long-term at the more important underlying issues. But how we parent each day will impact a child’s future. We need to be more intentional in our parenting.
Something To Talk About:
- Be intentional with your time: As parents, we are bombarded on a daily basis with decisions, activities, and tasks. We try to multitask by juggling to-do’s and interruptions while at the same time trying to engage with the kids. In the end, nothing gets our full attention. To be intentional means giving the kids your undivided attention. There is a distinct difference in kids when parents spend quality-focused time with them: their eyes light up, they complain less, and they tend to be happier. And it gives the parent the opportunity to talk about spiritual matters; anything else in your schedule can wait. So be intentional with your time. Be a connected parent. Ask God to show you how to build deeper connections with them by exploring their interests together.
- Be intentional with your talk: In order to instruct, you need to be very intentional in your conversations with your kids. In an ideal world, our children would walk out of church rattling off Bible passages and apply it in their young lives during the week. We know it doesn’t work that way. Talking to our kids about their faith can sometimes be challenging. Not only do we think that we are ill-equipped to discuss theology, but it can often be uncomfortable relating to our kids on such a personal level. Yet, God designed us as parents to not only protect and nurture our kids but supply their spiritual needs as well. We need to talk to them about God’s unconditional love. We need the Spirit to help guide our conversations. We need to learn how to have conversations rather than interrogations. And we need to help them apply what they learn in their daily lives.
- Be intentional with the truth: Children of all ages will be exposed to negative criticism of Christianity at school, with friends, or online. Our job as parents is to try to prepare them for the questions and the viewpoints they will get. God’s Word is our best weapon in this battle. His Word is our anchor in the confusing culture kids find themselves in. If a Christ-loving/following parent hopes their children will choose the same life, there must be discussions about the validity/evidence of and for the faith. This doesn’t happen due to growing up in proximity to a believing parent. Neither does a child learn anything (at least not properly) without direct and coherent conversation and explanation. There is the truth and there are lies. It is our job to define for the next generation the difference between the two. The next generation needs to know the truth about evolution, morality, the challenges presented by culture, etc. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, “And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
- How does our changing culture most challenge you as a parent?
- Using a scale of 1-10, with 1 being under culture, and 10 being under God, what do you think is a reasonable number to be at? Why?
- When it comes to exposing your kids to culture, have you tended to overexpose or underexpose? Why?
- How can you cultivate a love for the lost in your own heart and in the heart of your children?
- Would you call yourself a distracted parent? Why or why not? What’s the worst distraction for you? What is a strategy you can use to develop a devotional time with your family?
- How are you maintaining a culture of communication and conversation in your home? How can you become a better listener for your child?
- We must seek out opportunities to speak God’s Word to them. What is a question you can ask your child this week to stimulate a faith discussion?
- What steps can you take to talk about your relationship with the Lord to your children?
- The gospel should shape the way you parent your young adult and should affect every area of your young adult’s life. Agree or disagree and why?
- What are your expectations for this week as a result of Sunday’s message?
Take one thing home with you:
“And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
The Deuteronomy passage is a roadmap for how we are to live out our faith in front of our children. What we believe must make its way into our daily attitudes, conversations, and routines. If we want our kids to have a growing faith and love God’s Word, we need to demonstrate its importance in our lives. A “Do as I say, not as I do” approach to parenting will fall flat. We can’t fake it as parents. We need to read His Word daily. Connect with your church. Make God’s Word a necessary part of our daily life. Allow your kids to be a part of that process. Allow them to see the importance and joy of God’s Word in your life. They will learn to lean on God and develop a growing love for Him and His Word.